A Psalm for Spring

IMG_4922 editWinter is well suited for contemplation.  Spring, I’m reminded lately, is not.  Spring is, rather, for living in the moment, moving constantly from the enjoyment of one beautiful, wonderful thing to the next, trying not to dwell on the fact that you’re probably still missing something wonderful.  Nothing sits still, lingers or waits for you.  There is a great tension of panic and excitement that wells up inside of me at the recognition of this.  I feel a little like my children, oh so impatient to be done with phonics and math, oh so eager to run outside and not miss a single glorious day of this fleeting season.

And to be honest, that’s kind of what I’ve been doing.  I’ve been so busy in my spare time taking pictures of the world exploding to life lately, I’ve had little time to think of composing words to accompany them and little motivation to sit down and apply myself to the task.  This is what happens to severely cabin-fevered Minnesotans after over half a year of winter, I suppose.  Finally, I’ve realized that soon I’ll have more pictures in my files than can ever properly fit in one blog post and I’d better quit waiting around for writing inspiration and just send them out into the world before they’re completely out of date.

Besides, I suspect the words of this ancient Psalm sum it up far better than I ever could.  Welcome to a little glimpse of the glory of spring that I’ve been reveling in.

IMG_4792 edit“How good it is to sing praises to our God, IMG_4926 edithow pleasant and lovely to praise Him!IMG_4939 edit.jpgGreat is our Lord, and mighty in power;IMG_5051 edit.jpgHis understanding has no limit.IMG_4917 edit.jpgSing to the LORD with thanksgiving; IMG_4947 edit.jpgmake music on the harp to our God, IMG_4995 edit.jpgwho covers the sky with clouds,img_5024-edit.jpgwho prepares rain for the earth,

IMG_5030 edit.jpg IMG_5044 edit.jpgwho makes grass to grow on the hills.IMG_5065 editHe sends forth His command to the earth; His word runs swiftly.IMG_5068 edit.jpgHe provides food for the animals,IMG_4978 edit.jpgand for the young ravens when they call.IMG_4984 edit.jpgHallelujah!”

(Excerpts from Psalm 147)

Baby Time

IMG_4726.JPGThis week, our resident swan pair debuted their newest brood of offspring, parading them very proudly all the way around the lake (for all the neighbors to see, I presume).  There are six cygnets, which might be their all-time record for family size!

There is a shy doe at the edge of the field, who acts very nervous whenever we come near.  I know there’s a tiny fawn hiding in the swampy raspberry thicket beyond where she lingers, though we have yet to actually see him.

After three known unsuccessful attempts (including inside the exhaust pipe of my husband’s truck), last year’s swallows have finally settled on a place to build a new nest.  Incidentally, it’s in the exact same place as they built the last one.  Silly birds.

A mother rabbit went bounding off from my parent’s garden when I was visiting there earlier this week, scared by the dog.  She left this wee cutie, with brown eyes almost as big as his ears, crouched obediently close to the ground.  He didn’t move a muscle, even when I took this picture:IMG_4752.JPGIt’s been baby time everywhere we look outside lately—and then, finally, at 6:45, just after the pearly gray dawn of a Wednesday morning, it was our turn.

A tiny baby voice cried out for the first time in the little house on the edge of a lake, while outside in the gentle rain the swan family paddled softly through the lily pads in search of breakfast and the swallows twittered busily around their almost-finished nest.

A woman has pain in childbirth because her time has come; but when she brings forth her child, she forgets her anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.” (John 16:21)

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

Praise the Lord!

This is the Day

baby swallows in nest / rejoicing hillsIMG_8635 edit bandwOne morning a couple weeks ago I heard a great commotion of twittering and chattering out on the porch, and I ran out none too soon.  The first baby swallow had dared to fly from the nest to a nearby plant-hanging bracket, and his parents were circling the porch, excitedly encouraging him on.  By late afternoon, all four of them were gone, off to join the swooping scores of swallows that dance in the sky above our farm everyday.

It’s kind of a happy-sad thing to see them go.  Happy because that’s exactly what they’re supposed to do and I don’t have to clean bird droppings off my porch floor anymore;  sad because I’ll still miss their happy sounds, looking up to see them peeking over the edge of their nest at me, and watching them grow.  baby swallows / rejoicing hillsbaby swallows in nest / rejoicing hillsThis week, my baby turned one.  She also started experimenting in the realm of walking.  Right now she still tends to revert back to her (very skilled) version of a crab crawl after a couple wobbly steps, but I know soon enough she’ll be off and running, ready to explore the world.  These days of her helpless sweet littleness are flying by so fast.

Again, that happy-sad feeling.  The joy of watching her grow and learn and become her own little person is as great as the wistfulness I feel as I watch these precious baby years slipping away.  baby swallow / rejoicing hills

I thought about this as I watched those little birdies all fly away, and it was such a good reminder for me to cherish the sweetness amidst the chaos (because, yes, I have to admit that teething and dirty diapers are not always so sweet).  Tomorrow, next week, next year there will be new joys, new sorrows.  There will be new things to say goodbye to, and new things to welcome.  But today with it’s unique gifts, challenges and blessings will never come again.  David says it so well:

“This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!”  (Psalm 118:24)

This is the day to savor the way she reaches up her little arms to be held, and the way she pops her thumb in her mouth and lays her little curly blonde head on my shoulder when she’s tired.  This is the day to rejoice in the sound of her chanting “ma-ma-ma-ma” like I’m the most wonderful person in the world and the way she squeals and giggles when she sees a furry animal (stuffed or alive).  This is the day to take videos of her trying to figure out how to put her own shoes on, and take pictures of the look on her face (very pleased) at her first taste of the frosting on her birthday cake, and write down that she said “uh-oh” when she dropped her ball over the edge of the couch.  Yes, this is the day.swallow nest / rejoicing hills

What has God given you today?  What fleeting opportunities are there for you to seize?  What precious memories are there for you to take joy in the making of?  May you find them and rejoice in them greatly!

(See here and here for the rest of the story and pictures of these swallows!)

Cradled in Feathers

baby swallows / rejoicing hillsThis shot of our baby swallows newly-hatched, still so tiny, cradled in downy white feathers has to be my favorite out of all the many photos I’ve taken of them.  It’s not the cutest by any means—those little naked birdies are pretty skinny and ugly at this point.  But I love how those helpless little ones are so lovingly cradled in the softest feathers plucked from their parents’ own bodies.  It so perfectly illustrates this comforting Scripture:

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust…  (Psalm 91:4)

In our weakest, most needy and helpless moments, our heavenly Father cares for us with all the tender love and care of a mother bird tending her precious young.  This is perhaps one of the most beautiful pictures of His love for us that I can think of.  Cherish that thought, and tuck it away to remind yourself of on hard days!

Porch Tenants

swallow on nest / rejoicing hillsWe’re happy to be the landlords to a pair of barn swallows this summer.  They’ve tucked their neat little mud nest snug up under the eaves of our porch upon the solid (?!) foundation of a single long nail, and don’t seem to mind our comings and goings below.  In return, we have chosen to overlook the mess they are making in favor of enjoying the sound of them twittering affectionately at each other in the mornings and being buzzed as they swoop through the open flyway around our heads.

Barn swallows often fall on the list of “common birds” for most people (you know, not nearly as exciting as, say, a purple martin or a bluebird)—but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these ordinary little neighbors better this year.  For the first time, I’ve had a chance to observe their unique coloring and markings up close (really quite stylish!) and I maintain that there is no small bird quite so swift and elegant in it’s flight as a swallow.  We’ve (I hope) developed a bit of a bond over our mutual aversion for the red squirrel who lurks around the house—and they’ve even (I think) forgiven me for taking this picture: swallow nest / rejoicing hillsIf you will note from the first picture in this post, they built their nest just far enough away from the roof to allow their slim, stream-lined selves in and out.  They didn’t really take into account the fact that they were taking up residence on the porch of a photographer, and I was a little put out with them about that for awhile.  What’s the fun of having a birds’ nest next to your front door if you can’t even photograph what’s inside?  Then, a friend had a genius idea:  what about using a mirror?  (Thanks, Tami!)  I can’t believe I never thought of that myself! A few gymnastics with a small mirror and a camera on top of a dining room chair later, we got this peek at the five prettiest little freckled eggs you ever saw!

I went looking for a verse about birds to pair with these photos, expecting to settle on some kind of general reference—and was surprised and fascinated to discover that swallows are actually specifically referenced in the Bible.  And not just once, but four times! The following psalm was my favorite, but you can check out these links (Proverbs 26:2, Isaiah 38:14 and Jeremiah 8:7) to read the others!swallow with nest / rejoicing hillsHow lovely are Your dwelling places, O LORD of hosts!  

My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.  

The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God.  

How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah.”  (Psalm 84:1-4)IMG_7318 editStay tuned—hopefully there will be a baby bird sequel soon!